Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The New Evangelization

It has been a while since I've had a blog post but thought I'd share from last Sunday's homily.

I'd like to repeat the Collect for today and ask that you continue to think about it a I proceed with my homily.

Grant us, we pray, O Lord our God

the constant gladness of being devoted to you,

for it is full and lasting happiness

to serve with constancy

the author of all that is good.

As many of you know I spent last week in Dallas. I enjoyed a show put on by Celtic Thunder, but more importantly, I was able to visit one of our seminarians who is studying at Holy Trinity Seminary connected with the University of Dallas. I also attended the mid-year meeting for State Chaplains and State Deputies of the Knights of Columbus.

A few weeks ago, a Synod of Bishops met in Rome to discuss the New Evangelization. This topic was addressed in various homilies, talks and discussions that took place this past week.

One might ask first of all the purpose of the New Evangelization. In order to do that we need to look back at the first evangelization that took place. After the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the apostles went out to the ends of the earth to spread the "Good News". Much of the world was exposed to the Gospel and became Christian.

In our own time, we see a decline in the practice of Christianity. Much of our society has become very secular in its outlook. Religion has been set aside.

The purpose of the New Evangelization is to help us reconnect with Christ and with his Church.

This past week, Archbishop Lori, the Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, and the Archbishop of Baltimore shared a story that went something like this.

It seems that after years of persecution and trying to exclude all forms of foreign influence from entering the country, Japan once again allowed missionaries to come ashore. These missionaries started in Nagasaki which had many years before been seen as a center of Catholicity in the Far East. As they worked their way out from the city they came to a small village. They were astounded to see that the faithful there were gathering on Sunday and recited the Apostle's Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary, the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. The missionaries asked them about these practices and were told that long ago these things were taught to them by the Fathers. The Fathers had told them that if anything happened to them (the Fathers) that they should continue these prayers and that someday new Fathers would come to their village.

The missionaries assured the villagers that they were the new Fathers. The villagers responded that the Fathers had left four questions to be asked of anyone claiming to be one of the Fathers. The missionaries said, "Let's try to answer them." So they were asked the first question, "Who is the savior?" The missionaries answered, "Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins." The villagers smiled and presented the second question. "Who is his mother?" The missionaries answered, "Mary!" Both the villagers and the missionaries were started to get a bit excited. The villagers continued. "Where does the leader of your Church live?" The missionaries responded, "In Rome, of course." At this the villagers were visibly started to show some anticipation as they asked the last question. "Do you have wives?" and the missionaries answered, "No!" and with that the villagers took them to there hidden church so they could once again be reunited to their faith.

For these missionaries to Japan, the work associated with the new evangelization was was easy because faith still existed among the villagers. Parents had handed it on to their children for over 250 years.

It is much harder in our society today. Faith in one's self seems to have trumped faith in Christ and His Church. Many people are focusing on "What is good for me?" instead of "What is good for us?" We seek temporary happiness instead of eternal joy. We do not seek the common good.

It is important for us to realize that sometimes the common good requires sacrifice on our part. We need only look behind me to the crucifix on the wall to remind us of the sacrifice that God made because he loved us. When we truly start to focus on God's love, and make sacrifices in the spirit of that love, we grow in joy.

It is this joy that enables us to fulfill the mission put upon us to bring about the New Evangelization. AS I've said before in reference to the Second Vatican Council, it is the job of the laity to take Christ into the world. That includes our places of work, our places of socializing, our homes and schools.

While listening to the Catholic radio station this weekend I heard comments made about another issue that was brought out last week. We need to get out of the habit of compartmentalizing our lives. For some of us when we are at church it is ok to show our faith. When we go to work, our faith is the last thing we exhibit. In our homes and family life sometimes we get to busy to let our faith be evident.

We need to let the joy of our faith take over all that we do. Christ needs to be the center of how we do things. Our moral values should be reflected n how we do our jobs and the decisions we make. In our family life we should incorporate our prayer, not only with grace at meals, but at other times during the day. A family that prays together, stays together.

We should work to discover not only what the Church teaches, but why she teaches what she teaches. We need to realize that the "rules" of the Church are not meant to restrict us, but are meant to lead us to the joy that has been promised. If we take time to think about the ten commandments they are truly life giving, when we follow them. When we don't we start to draw ourselves away from God and his Church and start to become more self centered.

As disciples of Christ there is a lot that is expected of us. Let us joyfully follow our Lord. Out of that joy, may we share our faith with all of those we encounter and help with the New Evangelization.

I'd like you to listen one more time to today's collect.

Grant us, we pray, O Lord our God

the constant gladness of being devoted to you,

for it is full and lasting happiness

to serve with constancy

the author of all that is good.

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